4 October 2017 | Approved: 1 November 2017
Peter Nagrod called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were commissioners Dave Hix, John McClelland, Deb Mehlferber and Steve Werts. Others in attendance were residents Rachael Buehrer, Charlie Challstrom, Larry French, Marida Hines and Andrew Hotaling. Town Council members Pat Klein and Audrey Maskery, Historic Preservation Commissioner David Stopak and Mayor Joli McCathran were also in attendance.
Approval of Agenda:
John McClelland moved to approve the agenda. Dave Hix seconded the motion. The Commission agreed to remove item #7 (Ordinance work/rewrites) from the agenda. Approved: 5-0, as amended.
Charlie Challstrom presented a draft zoning text amendment to aid with the local map amendment process. The proposed amendment changes 1,000 feet to 100 feet in Section 13.263 of Article VII. He referenced an upcoming action by the Woods Committee proposing all of the East Woods be part of the FR (Forest & Recreation) Zone. There was a brief process discussion. John McClelland moved to file and accept Ordinance 2017-05; Ordinance Adopting Amendment to Article VII, Zoning, Section 13.263 Regarding the Vicinity Map Required with an Application for Local Map Amendment. Dave Hix seconded the motion. Vote: 5-0.
Rachael Buehrer and Andrew Hotaling (407 5th Avenue) came to address the Mayor’s concerns about the new parking pad and use of 6th Avenue. Andrew pointed out the Town map in the directory shows 6th Avenue as a local access road. He also referenced the 2009 Master Plan which references local access designations. He then explained the two (2) reasons for the creation of the new parking pad; 1.) To fill a very low muddy area in the yard; 2.) To provide parking for guests. Andrew asked if 6th Avenue’s current designation could be found in a Town resolution. Mayor McCathran explained two (2) residents brought the parking pad to her attention and she is required to bring it up. Rachael stated they had no intention of disrupting their neighbors. There was a discussion about the following:
- The long-term access issue in this area
- Over flow parking on Dorsey Street created by the Town
- Permission for guest parking
- Creating a resolution to allow occasional use for guests
- The wisdom of a formalized action such as a resolution
- The Town Parking Policy in the 2009 Master Plan
In conclusion, the current use of 6th Avenue by Rachael, Andrew and their guests is a permitted use.
Approval of the Minutes:
Dave Hix moved to approve the September minutes. Deb Mehlferber seconded the motion. Approved: 5-0, as amended.
Building Permit Applications:
1 The Circle – Fence – Deb Mehlferber reported all paperwork requirements, including a boundary survey, were complete. She explained the location and height of the proposed fence. Deb Mehlferber moved to approve a permit for a fence on the south end of the property along Locust Lane. Dave Hix seconded the motion. Approved: 4-0. Peter Nagrod abstained.
1 The Circle – Shed – Dave Hix reported all paperwork requirements were complete, relevant corner markers were located (2 points in Locust Lane) and the setbacks are fine. Dave Hix moved to approve a permit for a shed. John McClelland seconded the motion. Approved: 4-0. Peter Nagrod abstained.
Petition to Allow Property Owners to Purchase Land Under their Houses:
The petition was certified by Board of Elections Supervisor Meredith Horan and is now accepted by the Town Council. There was a discussion about the following:
- The purchase of land from residents who own into a public road
- The fire at 203 2nd Avenue as the triggering event for creating the permanent easement option
- Consequences of allowing property owners to purchase Town land
- The rule of adverse possession
- Consequences/results of the Town Block Corner Survey Project
- Surplus and abandoned land
- Previous requests to buy small pieces of Town land
- Council’s ability to change policy
- 2009 Master Plan information
- Lenders attitude toward easements
In conclusion, Mayor McCathran stated the petition must be acted upon favorably at the next Town Council meeting. If not, a special Town meeting must be called.
Public Walkways and their use for Access to Parking near Homes:
Covered under Public Appearances.
Cator Property Development – Update:
Charlie Challstrom offered a document explaining his understanding of the status of this property. The Town has not yet received the Forest Conservation bond, therefore, the final subdivision plat cannot be filed with Montgomery County Land Records and the property cannot go on the market.
Permitting Process for Renting Rooms in a Single Family Dwelling:
This issue will be thoroughly reviewed during the update to the Town Master Plan. John McClelland has found information about how other municipalities handle this issue and will put something together in the near future. The Commission discussed the following:
- Inspections (health & safety)
- University Park information from Town attorney
- Hiring a part-time inspector
- Renter’s rights
- County enforcement through Landlord/Tenant Affairs Office
In conclusion, Mayor McCathran will ask Town Attorney Suellen Ferguson for her documentation about this issue.
Fences – Clarification of Repair vs. Replace:
Peter Nagrod stated the goals for fencing in the Grove are to be sure they are on private property and that they are not too high. The Commission discussed repair vs. replace. If a fence was permitted 25 years ago and now needs fixing, it is a repair and no permit is necessary. If a fence is known to be on Town land, the Town will write a letter to the resident. There was additional discussion about replacing 8 foot sections of rotted fencing and what % of new sections would constitute a replacement. There was no real conclusion. John McClelland volunteered to bring in additional information about this subject. Larry French urged the Commission to consider how to deal with the deer issue in Town.
Washington Grove House Records – Status Report:
There was no report this month.
Report from Town Council:
John McClelland reported the Council discussed the following:
- Ridge Road speed bumps
- Zoning at 16950 Oakmont Avenue
- Town Street Signs
- Sink Hole on Chestnut Avenue in front of #302
Charlie Challstrom reported Gary Temple (114 Ridge Road) was in touch with him concerning the consolidation of their three (3) small lots into one (1). This action would cause them to have only one tax bill from Montgomery County. If the Town will sign off to indicate our surveys are accurate, the County will allow the consolidation. John McClelland moved to allow Peter Nagrod to sign-off on the request to facilitate the Temple’s combining of lots. Steve Werts seconded the motion. Approval: 5-0.
Charlie Challstrom distributed a handout concerning the 2019 Master Plan, in an effort to move forward with this task. He will help with strategy and format items on a limited access Google drive.
Mayor McCathran reported a Temporary Use Permit for a dumpster was issued for 125 Grove Avenue but there is no permit for the foundation work. She will need to issue a stop work order. The new owners of 107 Pine Avenue were asked to obtain a Temporary Use Permit for a dumpster as well. To date they have taken no action to comply. Mayor McCathran will also remind the new owners about the restrictions concerning in-law suites in Washington Grove.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:42 PM.
Kathryn L. Lehman, Town Clerk